In a rare burst of hospitable energy, I invited my friend, Liz and the new longish-term man in her life, to come to dinner on Sunday night. Anticipating our dinner guests, ever so subtly my husband suggested that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to clean and organize my study.
The New Man, my husband noted, might be put off, if – while en route to our “powder room” – he caught a glimpse of my work area with its disheveled stacks of files and heaps of my carefully curated, extremely relevant, never-to-be-discarded or read again newspaper articles?
O.K., so I am a collector, do you have a problem with that?
If you are in my general age bracket, you may be a collector too. Of newspaper articles, vintage jewelry boxes, antique candle sticks, old sports memorabilia.
A recent article in the Washington Post confirmed what I had suspected – our adult millennial children are not like us. They do not collect.
Millennials, the article tells us, don’t keep their old college text books in their basement like
we do we did. They live simpler lives, preferring their own personal design aesthetic to inherited brown furniture.
I am coming to grips with this fact.
It is highly unlikely that my own kids will want my grandmother’s large, mahogany dining room table nor will they fight over my well-loved, but hardly used (I’m still saving it for “good”), 12 place settings of ornate sterling silver.
We boomers believe that our memories are stored in tangible objects. Our adult kids do not wax as nostalgic over generational hand-me-downs. They value intangibles instead. Posting their experiences as they experience them, they instagram, they snapchat and then, poof, what could become a memory quickly disappears.
How will our adult kids pass down memories to their own kids if their memories never leave their iPhones?
Yet another problem I won’t be around to solve.
I do see the Millennial attraction to intangibles. They are definitely the lighter way to go.
Admission: Sometimes I feel tied down by, rather than affectionate towards, the very tangible objects in which my family memories are stored. My grandmother’s dining room table has never been and is not now, let’s face it, an attractive piece of furniture. It is an ungainly space occupier that can seat 12 people. The last time I hosted 12 people at a sit-down dinner was never.
But a few years ago when I considered – in a brief, wild, rebellious moment – that I might rid myself of the old dining room table and purchase a new more contemporary one, I could not bring myself to do it.
Sad to contemplate, then, that the big brown dining room table along with my grandfather’s collection of old beer steins and my aunt’s no longer tunable piano will probably end their useful lives in a tag sale, a thrift shop or shudder to think, our county dump.
So when it came time to plan the menu for our Sunday dinner for four, I decided to go all out. Let’s put some sentimental items to work for a change!
Put an old white tablecloth that was my mother’s onto the big brown table. Use a vase we received as a wedding present 37 years ago for flowers. Hand-wash the crystal, half-moon-shaped salad plates that have quietly resided in the china cabinet for all these years. Drag the sterling silver flatware downstairs for its annual airing. Just using all of these tangible objects did make me feel a bit nostalgic.
But I firmly draw the line at cleaning and/or organizing my study.
I do plan, however, you will be glad to hear, to give a full cleaning to our “powder room” (in which, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever applied powder) before Liz and her New Man arrive. I figure if he is as thoughtful and kind as Liz says he is, he will also be smart enough to look the other way if happens upon my messy study. I am too attached to the reassuring existence of my carefully curated nest of newspaper articles to sort through and discard any of them – at least for now.
Why mess with my memories while I still have them?